top of page
  • Writer's picturePalaemon Maritime

How Much Does it Cost to Repatriate a Stowaway?

Stowaways are an ongoing problem for security within the maritime industry, particularly in West Africa. Incidents involving stowaways can come with a cost for shipping companies and potentially turn violent, like the NAVE ANDROMEDA incident in the English Channel, which resulted in British SBS special forces storming the ship after Nigerian stowaways made threats against the crew. This report will discuss the dangers of stowaways to the maritime industry.

What is a Stowaway?

A stowaway is someone secretly gaining access to a ship and is not discovered until the ship is underway or unloading at another port.

The purpose of doing this is usually to gain the opportunity of a better life in a better-developed country with the hopes of seeking asylum. As it can be hard to identify stowaways, which makes repatriation difficult, the chances of being deported are reduced.

Where do Stowaways Wide?

Stowaways will attempt to board from their port of origin and hide in various places of the ship. People can gain access when the ship is at anchor or in transit, and methods include climbing aboard, bribery of port officials and hiding in containers.

Stowaways can hide in cargo holds, false panels, the engine room, accommodation areas and lockers when on board. However, a favoured method is hiding on the rudder trunk at the back of the ship. This method does not require getting up the freeboard onto the deck.

Incidents like these can cost over $100,000 in insurance payouts.

What Happens After a Stowaway is Found?

As stated earlier, there is always the risk that stowaways can turn violent and try to hijack the ship or threaten the crew. Whilst these incidents usually do not escalate to violence, they come with costs for the maritime industry. Costs for repatriating stowaways fall to the ship owners, who are responsible for paying legal fees. This problem is also added to potential insurance payouts of $30,000 per stowaway*, which can harm insurance premiums in addition to port delays which affect charterers. Incidents like these can cost over $100,000 in insurance payouts.

When caught, stowaways should be housed securely with guards if possible. The Master and the crew should be humanitarian in their approach whilst also being firm. This approach avoids any incidents that could lead to crew or stowaway injuries and potential damages on board the ship.

some ports do not accept stowaways due to legal complications

Ships Flag

The ship's flag state must also be contacted to assist the Master and port authorities with identifying the identity and nationality of the stowaway to help with deportation at the next port. The ship need not return to the port of origin to avoid affecting time charters.

It should also be noted that some ports do not accept stowaways due to legal complications, making things difficult for a ship that finds them onboard. If a stowaway dies on board, the relevant embassy and authorities at the next port decide what happens.

The process can vary from country to country. Therefore, finding stowaways on board can be a challenging process involving multiple authorities and the detailed attention of the crew to keep the stowaways comfortable. Costs for shipowners can harm insurance premiums, and potential charges can be laid on the crew if stowaways are not treated correctly.

What Can You Do About It?

Palaemon Maritime's PRO-TECT anti-piracy barriers can help with unauthorised entry onto the ship. Whilst also helping to prevent violent boarding actions due to stopping pirate tools such as hooks, ladders and poles, anti-piracy barriers can reduce the risk of stowaways climbing on board the ship.

Crew searches and specialist teams with sniffer dogs are available in some ports that can also prove to be effective.


48 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page